QT Magazine - - TRAVEL -


This month’s Trip Ad­vi­sor is Nathan Sewell from Karra­bin who shared with QT Magazine all the ins and outs of his visit to Ja­pan ear­lier this year, at a time when Cherry Blos­soms were in all their glory. Nathan took his fam­ily for the hol­i­day of a life­time full of theme parks, shop­ping and some of the most amaz­ing street food you’ll ever see. Who went on your hol­i­day? The whole fam­ily. My­self, my wife Steph, and our three chil­dren Saffy,12, Poppy, 10, and Will, 8. Where did you go? Tokyo, Ja­pan for 10 days. Why did you choose Ja­pan? This was our first big over­seas hol­i­day as a fam­ily so we wanted some­where where we knew we would have a good time but was also safe and easy to nav­i­gate as a tourist. Steph and I had wanted to go to Ja­pan for quite a while mainly due to our love of Ja­panese food but also we knew there were at­trac­tions for our chil­dren. Our girls love anime and Will is a big Poké­mon fan. The com­bi­na­tion of cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences, food and at­trac­tions for kids made it seem like a great place for our first big fam­ily over­seas hol­i­day. Also there is a Dis­ney­land in Tokyo and what kid doesn’t want to go to Dis­ney­land? How did you plan ahead? I have to start by say­ing I am a re­search guy, and love re­search­ing and plan­ning for hol­i­days. The re­search started with the Lonely Planet Guide to Tokyo and from there it went sev­eral di­rec­tions, travel agents, web­sites, YouTube and friends who had been there pre­vi­ously. The Lonely Planet guide was a great place to start and from there I would re­search the web around places to stay and visit. I found a cou­ple of great web­sites Tokyo-cheapo.com and ja­pan-guide.com These were a re­source based around where to go and what to eat in Tokyo. I also watched a stack of YouTube videos with the fam­ily to get the kids en­gaged and ex­cited about the trip. Where did you go? We spent the whole 10 days in Tokyo and vis­ited most of the top tourist spots. Our Airbnb was in Ryo­goku, which is just out­side the main city, and it is the sub­urb where the Sumo live and train. Here we vis­ited the Edo Mu­seum and the Sumo sta­dium (un­for­tu­nately there was no tour­na­ments on when we were there). We spent a morn­ing walk­ing through the Im­pe­rial Gar­dens, shop­ping for Anime in Elec­tric Town. We vis­ited the bright lights of Shibuya and crossed the busiest pedes­trian cross­ing in the world. We were lucky enough to be there dur­ing Cherry Blos­som sea­son, so we joined the lo­cals and ate Bento boxes un­der the Cherry Blos­soms in Su­mida River Park. We also vis­ited Tsuk­iji fish mar­kets which was an ex­pe­ri­ence in it­self, hun­dreds of tiny shops and stalls sell­ing fresh seafood. Here we ate king crab, oys­ters, sashimi and eel all straight from the mar­kets. We vis­ited the Senso-ji Bud­dhist temple, which is sur­rounded by street food ven­dors and gift shops. We wan­dered the streets of Hara­juku, Shin­juku and Ginza eat­ing and look­ing for unique ex­pe­ri­ences and gifts. There is a sur­prise around ev­ery cor­ner. As an

ex­am­ple we stum­bled across a bunny cafe on the fourth floor of a non-de­script build­ing. Here Steph and the kids got to hold and feed rab­bits, but it turned out they also had baby ot­ters, so the kids fed and played with baby ot­ters. Plus of course we went to Dis­ney­land, which was one of the best ex­pe­ri­ences we had. The kids loved our day there. The rides were un­be­liev­able and the staff and whole place was first class. How did you get there? We flew Qan­tas direct to Narita Air­port, and then used the trains the whole time we were there. What were your first im­pres­sions of Ja­pan? Ini­tially it was a bit over­whelm­ing get­ting from the air­port to your ac­com­mo­da­tion, the train sta­tions are busy, but be as­sured it is or­gan­ised chaos. Our first im­pres­sion was how help­ful and nice the lo­cals were. We ar­rived at night and Will was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing travel sick­ness. On the train a Ja­panese lady saw our predica­ment and gave us some ginger chews to help set­tle his stom­ach, and from that point on we could not find a rude lo­cal any­where. We were ap­proached on sev­eral oc­ca­sions with of­fers of help when­ever we looked lost or con­fused. Was it what you ex­pected? It was ev­ery­thing we ex­pected and more. We went there for the food and it did not dis­ap­point, ev­ery cor­ner you turned there was a new food ex­pe­ri­ence. The main sur­prise was how cheap it was to eat. On av­er­age we could eat lunch or din­ner for un­der $50, that’s for five peo­ple. And that’s good qual­ity food in small restau­rants, not take away from Macca’s. Meals in­cluded ra­men, tem­pura, okonomiyaki and katsu curry. Also was amazed how good the ser­vice was at ev­ery shop, restau­rant and tourist spot we vis­ited. The city is spot­lessly clean, I can’t re­mem­ber see­ing a sin­gle piece of lit­ter, and this is strange as there are no pub­lic bins on the streets. What was your favourite ex­pe­ri­ence in Ja­pan? I think Steph and I would say the food. It is such a great food city, and it was the small fam­ily-run restau­rants that were the best. These usu­ally are close to the train sta­tions in small al­ley­ways. The kids would say ei­ther Elec­tric Town or Dis­ney­land. What tips would you give Ip­swich res­i­dents think­ing of go­ing there? Tokyo is cheaper than you think. If you go through tra­di­tional meth­ods ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion can be very ex­pen­sive. My ini­tial quotes for ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion through a travel agent was $7000, but we booked a unit through Airbnb and it cost $2100 for 10 nights. If you eat where the lo­cals eat you can save heaps and eat great food for re­ally good prices. Get a Suica card and use the trains, af­ter a day you will get use to the crowds and we were on and off them all day ev­ery­day.


The Sewells loved the street food (above left ) and Tokyo Dis­ney­land


Takeshita Dori - the main shop­ping street in Hara­juku, the Tokyo home of pop cul­ture

A se­lec­tion of Miso pastes in a depart­ment store in Tokyo.

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